Pickups to be suspended from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for better safety
Didi Chuxing, a car-hailing service company, said on Wednesday that it will suspend its "hitch" ride service from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. as part of its response to the killing of a female passenger.
Passengers and drivers will receive safety warnings for orders near 10 pm, the Beijing-headquartered company said in a statement.
The move comes after a 21-year-old flight attendant was killed, apparently by her driver in Zhengzhou, Henan province, on May 6. The man police believe to be the killer committed suicide afterward by jumping off a bridge.
The hitch ride service is one of 13 services Didi offers in China that are designed for cost-sharing. On Saturday, the company suspended the service nationwide for a week to review procedures and recheck drivers.
Hitch drivers should be confirmed through facial recognition every time they receive an order to make sure the service provider is the registered driver, the statement said.
The company will remove the comment function for the service. Personal information and profile pictures of drivers and passengers will only be available to drivers and passengers themselves.
The platform's social interaction functions have been criticized as a safety hazard. Drivers and passengers can post comments about each other, such as whether a driver or passenger was good. However, comments have often featured vulgar descriptions of females.
Drivers can see a passenger's information before accepting an order, and vice versa.
Emergency response functions will also be put in a more conspicuous place in the Didi app so that passengers can call the police or hospital for help easily in case of emergency.
All the rectification measures will be completed by the end of this month, the company said.
On May 11, the Ministry of Transport released a statement on its WeChat account saying that ride-sharing operators should ensure passengers' safety and put the interests of people first.
Cai Tuanjie, deputy head of the ministry's transport services department, said hitch services that include too much social interaction are straying from their original goal of providing transportation, and even pose a major safety hazard for the public.
On Tuesday, Cai called for the regulation of such services through mechanisms that would include government, enterprises, passengers and drivers.
Government departments should increase their inspections of carpool services and urge enterprises to launch businesses in accordance with the law, he said.
The incident was not the first time Didi has drawn public attention for a crime committed by a driver. A female teacher in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was robbed and killed in 2016 and another female passenger was raped in Wuhan, Hubei province, the same year.